Rewinding to a column I wrote a few weeks ago, "Spring Crappie: Time to Sow and a Time to Harvest," spurred a lot of comments.
Here are just a few of those comments.
Pat Neu, executive director of the National Professional Anglers Association, said, "A concern exists for the future of the resource when targeting vulnerable fish."
One angler wrote, "A closed season during the spawn might be the next step to preserving vulnerable spawning pan fish."
However, resource professionals that I come in contact with frown on a closed spring season on pan fish.
Instead, they want anglers to respect and enjoy the resource, and take a few home for a meal or two.
Another fisheries biologist advised keeping the female crappie, typically the larger ones, over the males as the best practice during the spawn. Once the eggs are laid, the male steps up to guard the nest. Harvesting the males off the beds leaves the nest defenseless to destruction by predators.
An angler commented, that he was guilty, recalling his early years fishing of taking too many crappies. Season after season passed, he soon learned the importance of selective harvest and only keeping a few crappie that have spawned or are males. On a recent outing, he caught a number of crappie with the intention to keep all. He came to the conclusion that it wasn't right and returned them all back to the water.
Ethical treatment of the resource is difficult to legislate. Educating anglers to the importance of good stewardship and setting examples is so important to preserving a healthy abundant fish population now and in the future.
A few weeks from today, Minnesota's game fish season opens. The outdoor community is changing and so is the fishing world. Social media and technology has had a negative impact upon sport fishing, also a positive one. It's a balancing act. Neither social media nor technology are going to go away, so we need to make sure we, and resource managers, evolve with them. The exposure of fishing to the masses is critical to its future in that the hype/interest there is in angling, the more likely we are to be able to slow the attrition angling is experiencing. It's also a Catch-22 how we expose the sport to the masses. With that exposure, how each of us treat the resource and as it's seen by others.
It boils down to, in my opinion, sport fishing needs to keep its participation numbers high. If we don't, I believe, we are at risk of having public resources becoming difficult to access and to potentially becoming privatized. The vast majority of monies available for management of the resources, in this country, comes from taxes on fishing equipment and our license fees. Additionally, we need to make sure that we don't move to a non-harvest scenario or we will be going down a road that ultimately dead-ends.
Again, all part of a balancing act and it pivots on the resource. Legislating fish management programs is a path to avoid, a trend we see happening more and more from St. Paul. Senators and representatives are dictating resource management instead of trained biologists.
Best practice: Rely and listen then unshackle our trained resource professionals. Truly, they have the betterment of the resource in mind.